Are you losing sleep over your business? Wide awake at 3am fraught with money worries? It is the single most common comment I hear on first meeting a CEO or the owners of a business where the business is in financial distress. Somewhere between swimming and drowning, the business is best described as being in the land of the living dead.

In a career spanning 25 years, I have helped many business owners get their business unstuck from what is at best survival mode.

I was asked recently by the director of a turnaround client, “How do you do what you do and why had we failed internally to fix things”. They had tried 4 or 5 times to turn things around themselves.

I replied, “Turnarounds are not that difficult. The reason many turnarounds fail is that those in charge of the turnaround don’t realise that leadership requires bringing others along for the ride and involving them in the problem. The other aspect of change that leaders neglect is the concept of grief. People grieve when things change and the turnaround leader needs to allow people to adapt. Of course within reasonable time limits as time is often the enemy in most turnaround situations”.

So the thing is that getting out of survival mode requires a turnaround leader with an equal mix of hard and soft skills. It is the soft stuff that is the hard stuff in a turnaround.

The following attributes are what you should look for in a turnaround expert:

  1. Strong financial turnaround acumen – a proven track record
  2. Demonstrates what I call tough-love with people
  3. Separates the person from the problem
  4. Remains calm under pressure
  5. Sees the positive
  6. Uses listening & enquiry but then acts quickly – facts first
  7. Accessible to others
  8. Motivates others
  9. Confident and delivers a powerful message

Oh and last of all the turnaround expert needs to be chameleon-like. Authoritarian in the first instance when the pressure is really on, and then can switch into collaborative mode once the business is stabilised and requires the support of others to drive profitable growth.

Those businesses we get out of survival mode, invariably prosper. As they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and this applies to our turnaround clients who come through the crucible of a turnaround.

If you have any thoughts, comments, or opinions about getting a business out of survival mode and business turnarounds generally please share in the comments section below!

Finally, don’t leave it too late. We cannot do much for you if by the time we have our first conversation, your business has one wheel over the cliff.